Who We Are
Our Vision: The eradication of systemic poverty and violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Our Mission: To empower women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo in their fight for safety, education, and economic independence.
Femme Berceau de l’Abondance (FEBA, French for Woman Cradle of Abundance) began in 1999 when an ecumenical Christian group of women from various regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo gathered in response to the systemic poverty and violence against women in the DRC. Femme Berceau de l’Abondance (FEBA) was born and has grown over the years, led by its visionary president Monique Misenga Mukuna. It implements a multifaceted approach to tackle complex and systemic problems of violence and poverty, and to empower women and girls to effect widespread, grassroots change.
Elsie (Tshimunyi) McKee, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, was born and reared in the west Kasai province of the DRC. For many years she has supported various educational and medical projects in the Kasai, including teaching there short-term. She became personally acquainted with Monique Misenga Mukuna and her work in the capital city of Kinshasa in 2008. When the African-initiated non-profit FEBA entered its second phase in 2010, Elsie visited Monique and some of her close colleagues. The following year Elsie returned to begin documenting FEBA’s story; interviewing founders and members and visiting various activities to be able to share these women’s amazing journeys with her students and other North Americans.
In 2012 Shari Oosting attended a presentation about FEBA’s work at a local church. She already had an interest in women’s issues in the DRC, so she reached out to see if her background in finance might be useful. Together Elsie and Shari began the process of officially organizing a North American partner Woman Cradle of Abundance. The IRS registration for this 501(c)3 non-profit is FEBA, Inc., dba Woman Cradle of Abundance, Inc. Shari became treasurer and Elsie president and international liaison. Sandra Larson had been drawn to African women’s issues since a visit to Kenya and she enthusiastically signed on to Woman Cradle of Abundance to serve as Director of Operations and Secretary. Other founding members were Gordon Govens, Lisa Robinson, and Karen Oleri, our generous web designer. Over the years, several members have moved away from NJ and resigned from active work. We are very grateful for the generous service and many contributions of Sandy, Karen, and Lisa in launching Woman Cradle of Abundance!
When it comes to women and girls, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s history has been tragic. Though the problems are overwhelming, they have not immobilized President Monique and her friends, and they in turn continue to inspire the rest of us. Our passion is to tell the stories of amazing women working in Congo, in Kinshasa and their partners in other parts of Congo, and to support their efforts to change the future by empowering women and girls.
Woman Cradle of Abundance, Inc. – Officers
Elsie McKee - International Liaison and President
John A. McGlaughlin - Treasurer
Cheryl Ciaranca - Community Outreach Coordinator and Secretary
Woman Cradle of Abundance, Inc. – Board of Directors
Dr. Elsie McKee, the Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship at Princeton Theological Seminary, is known as a historian of the 16th century. She has published books and articles on John Calvin, Katharina Schütz Zell, and Reformation worship; she has studied and taught in Europe and Congo as well as the United States, and lectured in various places around the world. She has long been involved with educational and medical projects in Congo, where she was born and reared. These include the Presbyterian University (Kasai), United Front Against Riverblindness, the North American Liaison Bureau of the Université Protestante au Congo (Kinshasa).
Shari Oosting works as the Program Administrator at Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute for Youth Ministry. She worked for seven years in the banking sector, including personal banking, business banking and lending. She is active in small group ministry and education at her church, Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, NJ. She spends as much time as she can outside with her husband Jason and two sons, Asher and Ezra, and daughters Elia and Ada.
Anna de Groot
A native of Lincoln, Virginia, Anna relocated to Princeton, New Jersey, to study at Westminster Choir College, where she has now earned two master’s degrees, Masters of Music in Piano Accompanying and Vocal Coaching, and Masters of Music in Piano Pedagogy and Performance. She delights in teaching and making music, and is honored to serve as a board member for WCOA.
Gordon's background is as a lawyer and business development executive. He was Vice President of the Digital Media Group at Beliefnet. Before that, Gordon served as Vice President of Business Development at Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). Gordon began his business development career at Real Networks as Senior Director of Business Development Media Programming. Prior to moving to the corporate world, Gordon was a partner at Pantaleoni Govens and Wise. He holds a BA in Philosophy from Swarthmore College, a Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law, and his Masters of Divinity and Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. Gordon is putting the finishing touches on his Ph.D. at Princeton Theological Seminary in the area of History with a focus on the Protestant Reformation, and is now teaching at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI.
While a teacher at Community Middle School, Cheryl founded Hands Across the Water in 2006. The program began as an email program to connect students from a world of ipods and smart phones with those who paid to use computer time miles from their homes. Since then, members have worked tirelessly to raise funds to provide tuition, school fees, supplies, books and clothing for students in Congo. Presently HAW is also managing a micro loan program in Uvira, providing employment in a struggling economy. Approaching retirement, Cheryl realized that she could not turn her back on her “family” in Congo. In 2013 Cheryl was led to Dr. Elsie McKee and Woman, Cradle of Abundance. Working with the organization gives Cheryl a chance to continue her work helping the brave people of Congo to emerge from the poverty and violence enveloping them. Cheryl is the Community Outreach Coordinator for Woman, Cradle of Abudance.
Beverley Williams is a librarian by profession, and an active leader in her church and friend to Congo women by choice. Originally from Jamaica, she has worked at Union Theological Seminary and at Princeton Theological Seminary library for many years and is currently the Collection Management Coordinator for library acquisitions. Bev heard about Woman Cradle of Abundance from friends at the seminary and became involved as a volunteer in 2014. Her enthusiasm and her joy in sharing news about FEBA are contagious; recent opportunities to get to know Maman Monique and Maman Antoinette have been highlights of this year.
Alicia Jay White
Alicia has more than 25 years of experience as an Information Technology professional at Fortune 50 companies. She enjoys photography and traveling in her spare time. Alicia has worked with several non-profit organizations, including Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity, and multiple Presbyterian church sponsored projects. She learned about the Woman, Cradle of Abundance organization and their work empowering women in the Congo through a church sponsored event and volunteered soon afterwards.
John is a human services professional with a background in education, serving both in public secondary schools and also in a private school with populations with special needs. He has worked for years in the private sector as an organizational development consultant focusing on promoting a culture of continuous improvement. He holds a Ph.D. in Education and an MA in Organizational Development.
He has recently retired from eleven years as a mathematics instructor with the School District of Philadelphia where taught Algebra and Geometry. He is married to Elsie McKee and with her has visited FEBA’s school in Kinshasa several times and seen the partner sewing school in the Kasai. He has taken an active role in supporting and promoting the goals of Woman Cradle of Abundance through fundraising efforts. In 2017, he assumed the role of treasurer.